Boehringer Ingelheim and The Lieber Institute for Brain Development to Collaborate to Develop Centrally Acting COMT Inhibitors for Treatment of Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Boehringer Ingelheim and the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) today announced a joint research and licensing collaboration focused on the development of novel centrally acting COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase) inhibitors for the potential treatment of cognitive deficits in a spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. Aligning with a circuitry-based approach to precision psychiatry, the collaboration will leverage Boehringer Ingelheim’s deep experience in central nervous system (CNS) drug discovery and development alongside Lieber’s expertise in centrally acting COMT inhibitors. Ultimately, the partnership will focus on advancing novel COMT inhibitor candidates into the clinic.
“Psychiatric disorders including cognitive impairment in schizophrenia have historically been difficult indications to treat and continue to remain areas of high unmet need. This collaboration with the Lieber Institute further expands our innovative neuropsychiatric research program, a key focus area at Boehringer Ingelheim, with a first-in-class mechanism that may have the potential to address these symptoms,” said Dr. Hugh Marston, Ph.D., Head of Department CNS Diseases Research at Boehringer Ingelheim. “By combining our expertise, we hope to make significant steps forward to finding solutions for patients for which there currently is no treatment.”
COMT, a dopamine metabolizing enzyme, is key to the modulation of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of the brain. Adequate function of dopamine signaling is critical for a number of cognitive and behavioral processes that are impaired in a variety of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia. While peripherally acting COMT inhibitors are currently used as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, this new collaboration is investigating centrally acting COMT inhibitors in neuropsychiatric disorders.
Recent studies from the Lieber Institute suggest an important role of centrally acting COMT inhibitors in the potential symptomatic treatment of various neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. The potential of centrally acting COMT inhibitors has not yet been evaluated in the clinic due to the unavailability of such compounds. In partnering with the Lieber Institute, Boehringer Ingelheim has in-licensed preclinical pipeline candidates, representing a first-in-class approach for targets in neuropsychiatric disorders.
“The Lieber Institute has a long-standing effort exploring centrally acting COMT inhibitors as part of its mission to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms of schizophrenia and related brain disorders,” said Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D., LIBD CEO & Director. “We are excited to embark on this partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim to identify potential therapeutic candidates and advance them to clinical development in order to help improve the lives of those affected by this serious mental health condition.”
Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.
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